RIYADH: People who live in and around Al-Ahsa Oasis reacted with joy and pride on Friday when it was revealed that Guinness World Records has recognized it as the largest self-contained oasis in the world.
The achievement was described as testament to the loving care and hard work that goes into maintaining the millions of palm trees that grow there. They cover an area of 32.9 square miles and are watered by a network of 280 artesian springs.
The dates produced in the region are renowned throughout the Kingdom and the world for their quality, and the lush greenery and cool weather have helped to make Al-Ahsa one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
Mohammad Alkhudayri, a licensed tour guide in Al-Ahsa, said he hopes the recognition by such a renowned organization will inspire more people to visit the oasis and enjoy its beautiful scenery.
“The oasis of Al-Ahsa is more than 6,000 years old, and for all those years it has remained as vibrant and rich as ever,” he said. “Some of the trees are thousands of years old. It is only natural that such an achievement would be recognized, especially given the amount of love and effort that went into maintaining the area over all these years.”
The oasis of Al-Ahsa is more than 6,000 years old, and for all those years it has remained as vibrant and rich as ever. Some of the trees are thousands of years old.
Mohammad Alkhudayri, a licensed tour guide in Al-Ahsa
The number of fruit-bearing date palms in Al-Ahsa exceeds 2.5 million, Alkhudayri added. Many residents rely on them, and so are deeply devoted to their care.
“The people of Al-Ahsa are so proud of their date palms,” he said. “They provide them with sustenance and with something beautiful to look at. Even other parts of the tree, such as the trunk and the leaves, are used to make equipment, furniture, baskets and so on. For anyone in Al-Ahsa, date palms are vital to their way of life.”
Mohammad Almelhem, whose family owns and operates a date farm in Al-Ahsa, said that the palm trees are synonymous with Al-Ahsa, and that the dates they produce are “the best in the world.”
“We Hasawis have a deep relationship with our palms,” he said. “They are our greatest blessing and we look after them so that they will look after us.
“Our hard work ensures that you will never get a sweeter-tasting date anywhere, or find a more beautiful and peaceful place to grow or eat them.”
Almelhem also said he hopes that the recognition by Guinness World Records will encourage more people to visit the region, as it has so much to offer to offer tourists and yet its attractions are relatively unknown.
“The city is modernizing but there is still so much heritage here for people to discover,” he said. “Visitors are always surprised when they come because they don’t expect to see as much as they do.”
Al-Ahsa Oasis is also recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, along with the Hegra in AlUla, the Turaif neighborhood in historic Diriyah, the historic Al-Balad district in Jeddah, and the rock art sites in Jubbah and Shuaimis in Hail.